Carlo Ancelotti is headed towards his first summer transfer window on Merseyside. He has made clear his intention to strengthen Everton’s defence which has shipped 49 goals in 29 games played so far this season.
The Toffees only have three first-team centre-backs currently listed in Michael Keane, Yerry Mina and surprise star-turn Mason Holgate. Another defender would provide some well-needed cover and competition.
Ancelotti seems to have made his targets clear, as Everton are persistently linked with two centre-backs: Gabriel Magalhães and Jean-Clare Tobido.
However, due to the tightening net of financial fair play and a need to strengthen in other areas, it may be wishful to think Everton will sign both players. So, assuming Everton need to prioritise one player, what do they each bring to the table?
The young Lille defender revealed his talents to Europe’s elite this year, starting in all six of Lille’s Champion’s League group games.
Despite his reputation as a ‘big-man-at-the-back’ type centre-back, Gabriel is also a forward-thinking defender who would suit Ancelotti’s style of speedy transitional football.
Gabriel has attempted more forward passes than any other Lille player this season. He also ranks second in his team for completed passes. His party piece appears to be long balls that cross into the opposition half having completed 243 of them.
Another thing that will have drawn Ancelotti to Gabriel is that he fits the sought after requirements of being a left-footed, left-sided centre-back.
He would set Everton back around €34m.
Everton and Barcelona have forged a close relationship over the past few years. Tobido may well be the next player to make the move from The Nou Camp to Goodison Park.
Like Gabriel, the 20-year-old also shone during the group stages of the Champions League. He put in an excellent performance against Inter Milan, prompting former Balon D’Or winner Lothar Matthaus to sing his praises: “Todibo is the best centre back I’ve seen in a long time.”
Tobido was looked at in January by Everton as a potential signing. He ended up instead on loan at Schalke 04, playing alongside Everton right-back Jonjoe Kenny.
He is a right-footed centre-back but was occasionally used as a central midfielder during his time at Toulouse.
There are fewer minutes of game time to analyse for Tobido than there were for Gabriel. From what we have seen, he appears to be a very good tackler with a propensity to lose concentration.
Tobido has never had a long run in a team to fully showcase his skill-set but he clearly has talent. He would set Everton back €20m.
Overall: The decision is a tough one.
Gabriel is the safe bet. He fits the requirements of a left-footed centre-back and his good passer qualities are just what Ancelotti is looking for.
However, Tobido represents an unknown quantity, whose potential seems to be sky-high.
For £8 million cheaper, is it a risk that Everton would be crazy not to take?